The Bioinformatics CRO Podcast
Episode 19 with Lucia Huang & Jimmy Qian
Lucia and Jimmy, co-founders of Osmind, discuss psychedelic therapies for mental illness, the future of the Bay Area, and public benefit corporations.
On The Bioinformatics CRO Podcast, we sit down with scientists to discuss interesting topics across biomedical research and to explore what made them who they are today.
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Lucia is co-founder and CEO of Osmind, which has developed an electronic health records system tailored to people with treatment-resistant mental illness. She received her MBA from Stanford and, previously, worked to help find cures for ALS and Parkinson’s at Verge Genomics.
Jimmy is co-founder and COO of Osmind, which has developed an electronic health records system tailored to people with treatment-resistant mental illness. He is currently on leave from Stanford’s MD program, and has previously founded multiple successful non-profits.
Transcript of Episode 19: Lucia Huang & Jimmy Qian
Grant: Welcome to The Bioinformatics CRO podcast. I’m Grant Belgard and joining me today is Lucia Huang and Jimmy Qian. Lucia graduated from Yale, worked in private equity, joined a biotech startup and got her MBA from Stanford before co-founding Osmind. Jimmy did his bachelor’s and master’s at UPenn and is on leave from the MD program at Stanford. He co-founded and led three nonprofits prior to co-founding Osmind. So Lucia and Jimmy, welcome to the show.
Lucia: Thanks, Grant, for having us.
Grant: What can you tell us about Osmind?
Lucia: Yeah, I’ll start. So Osmind is a data engine and digital infrastructure that we built for treatment-resistant mental illness. And so we’re really hoping to help move the needle for the patients that have suffered the longest in mental health.
And how we do that is we have software that serves practices all around the country. It’s an electronic health record and it helps clinicians that are using more intensive, innovative mental health modalities. And at the same time aggregates information that we can then use to help with things like drug development and better insurance coverage.
Grant: So Osmind is a public benefit corporation (PBC), can you tell us about that?
Lucia: Yeah. Jimmy, you should actually take this one, given you just published a blog in health affairs about why all healthcare companies should be PBCs.
Jimmy: Yeah. So our article mostly focused on hospitals and health care delivery companies, but Osmind is a PBC, public benefit corporation, and that is a for-profit entity that has specific legal frameworks around holding us accountable to following some sort of community benefit, which is pre-specified in our charter.
So we decided to become a PBC because we think in healthcare and life sciences, just companies in general should do this because we all care about patients. And that’s what really matters. And I think a lot of companies just in the healthcare space, sometimes don’t do a really good job of really maximizing patient outcomes and focusing on that.
So we decided to put that into our actual company charter, so that it’s as important legally as everything else is, such as maximizing stakeholder value, which is what every for-profit company has to do.
Grant: How do you anticipate being a PBC will impact your decision-making as you grow?
Lucia: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it comes down to our decisions around business model, for example, so as alluded to earlier, one of our core goals is to never charge patients ever for our product or services, even though they’re actively getting to use the software. And we plan on bringing a lot of other benefits to them. And part of the reason why we can do that is because we’re a PBC, because our stated benefit is to maximize patient access, innovative mental health treatment.
So, I think from a business model perspective, that’s just allowed us to think a little bit deeper about who we want to be, subsidizing the use for other stakeholders. And then on top of that, I think it’s also really helped us align with the types of people we want to build our team and to work with long term.
So, every single team member is really passionate about the cause as well, and has consciously chosen to work for a public benefit corporation. So there’s a lot of sort of social impact orientation and a mission in mind and then investors as well haven’t been an issue in any way in terms of attracting funding and it actually allows us to select for investors that are mission aligned with us as well.
Grant: So you mentioned not charging patients for anything. How does that square with insurance co-pay requirements?
Lucia: We don’t collect insurance from patients directly. We don’t provide the modality. We just provide the software that providers use with their patients. So we’re not actually collecting payments from patients, but for example, because they’re getting use of the app, we actually do help them submit insurance claims to insurance companies. And we don’t charge for that. That’s something that actually companies will charge a 10% fee for, and we don’t charge for it at all.
Grant: So who are your customers?
Lucia: Yeah, we have sort of a trifecta of customers: providers, so the doctors who are using the software. Electronic health record software has been around for about a decade, but it is the sole source of documentation for clinicians to track patients and how they’re doing is to write notes on them, to do things like prescribed and order labs and all of that. So that is the central hub for everything that they do.
And then there are pharma companies. With pharma companies there are a lot of different projects that we can work on, which is really exciting based on the infrastructure that we’ve built, everything from drug development, helping with designing the clinical trials and running them. For example, we still don’t know how depression works, right? Like we’ve got one general classification that classifies everyone with major depressive disorder, but there are many different subtypes that we just don’t have a good way of defining right now.
So with the data that we’re gathering, we’re able to better understand and segment patient populations and therefore guide pharmaceutical drug development to better optimize our clinical trials and targets and stratify specific patient populations for precision medicine.
So, that’s just one example of the many ways that we’re working with pharma, but another is recruiting patients too, because we’re getting to work with so many on our platform. We’ve got a better line of sight into which patients might actually qualify for these trials and reach out to them and give them that opportunity for help.
The last customer that we haven’t touched on is insurance companies. So I think insurance companies are also getting really excited about risk stratification, especially around treatment-resistant populations. The average treatment-resistant mental health patient costs twice as much as a “conventional” mental health patient.
So this is a huge cost for insurance companies to contain, and they need a better way of identifying these patients earlier on in their care journey. They need a better way of intervening using data. And that’s data and services that we’re able to provide to them as well.
Grant: How would the insurance company intervene in the patient’s care?
Jimmy: So these companies are really incentivized to decrease the cost of care for these patients, which involves both the actual direct costs of mental health and behavioral health, but also all the co-morbidities because unfortunately, a lot of these individuals often have other healthcare issues that are highly comorbid with their underlying mental health conditions.
So insurance companies have various different ways of dealing with this issue. Some of it is at the population care management level, where they try to optimize how to send people to the right types of care at the right times. And this could involve kind of preemptively sending them to certain types of providers and doing certain care programs outside of just traditional physician, patient relationships.
This also involves in-the-moment modalities, such as tracking side effects or medication adherence over time. So if someone is supposed to take a medication every day, the insurance company sometimes actually is involved in tracking that adherence because then that gets into longitudinal care management at the individual level.
Grant: How has Osmind evolved over time? Are you currently doing what you set out to do in your YC application?
Lucia: Oh man. Really good question. I feel like we’d both cringe if we went and read our YC application from almost a year ago. But no, I feel like we’ve stayed actually relatively on point from a mission standpoint. Like we set out and knew that we wanted to do something about treatment resistant mental health, because there’s a lot of mental health companies out there right now and that’s all really great because we need all the help that we can get. But there’s no one really focusing on this patient population that again is twice as expensive and actually a third of mental health patients are considered treatment resistant.
So we saw it as like a huge area of unmet need and help that was needed. So that’s always been the goal, but I think as we’ve evolved, we’ve really started to realize how much mental health and neuropsychiatry are at an inflection point. Like in the same way that oncology was transformed in the last decade with things like sequencing and chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies (CAR-T) and all of that mental health is really at that point right now.
And so we’re realizing that this huge unmet need finally is seeing hope with the new modalities that are coming online and the new understandings we have of phenotyping. So I think we’re able to yeah make a big difference here.
Grant: So your website talks a bit about ketamine and psychedelic assisted therapy and so on. Can you tell us about how you support that?
Jimmy: Yeah, so we work with a lot of clinics that provide ketamine therapy for people with mental health conditions and as psychedelic modalities become FDA approved, which we expect to happen within the next one to two years, we are also very interested in serving those providers and a lot of our current customer base are very plugged into the psychedelic medicine community.
So just kind of broadly were very excited by where the field of interventional psychiatry and psychedelic assisted therapy are going. And this includes a lot of substances, such as psychedelics, which can really induce new ways of thinking that can really help people get out of a funk when it’s coupled with psychotherapy.
But it also includes the psychoactive substances that also might have molecular mechanisms of action that just help people feel better even without psychotherapy. And this could involve non hallucinogenic analogs of psychedelics, and we are very interested in collecting data so that researchers can figure out what the best way to treat people is.
We don’t really know, as a field, whether hallucinations are actually necessary for people to get better. We don’t know if psychotherapy actually is as important or more important than the molecular mechanisms of action. And I think pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, patients, physicians, everyone’s very interested in finding the answers because we have a really big problem with SSRIs just not really working for a lot of people. And we need to just stop pushing pills and find things that actually work.
Grant: Can you elaborate a bit on psychedelic medications being possibly FDA approved in the next year or two?
Jimmy: Yeah, this is a crazy idea to a lot of people, just because psychedelics have a really complicated history throughout the world and throughout the US. But ketamine has been FDA approved since 1974 anesthesia. And it is a substance that, although not a classical psychedelic because of the molecular mechanisms of action it has, it is still a psychoactive molecule that induces certain hallucinatory effects in people. So this is used for anesthesia, but in the past 20 years, it has become increasingly used for mental health.
And it could be used as more of a medical model where you just give someone ketamine and then they hopefully feel better or it could be coupled as a therapeutic dose together with psychotherapy. So someone would be actively undergoing some sort of psychoactive experience while talking to a therapist.
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is in phase three trials right now, the first phase three trial by MAPS has already been completed. And the second one is underway and from everything we’ve heard, it seems to be going extremely well. And the field widely expects MDMA assisted psychotherapy to be FDA approved sometime pretty soon now.
It’s interesting because the FDA has been quite open-minded about these modalities, but they are very careful. For example, they’re ensuring that MDMA is being coupled with psychotherapy in a very controlled protocol, which involves a certain number of hours of therapy together with exactly how the medication would be administered.
Psilocybin assisted psychotherapy is in phase two B trials right now, and that will probably follow thereafter. And there are a number of other molecules that are in active development throughout phase one and phase two studies, which includes things like DMT and ibogaine and a lot of molecular analogs of all of these classical psychedelics.
Grant: Do you think Osmind might play a role in pharmacovigilance once these are approved?
Lucia: Yeah. I think that’s going to be a big part of it because we’ve got real-time monitoring built into the system. Patients are already reporting side effects, for example, of some of the treatments they’re receiving.
So there’s going to be a big need for collecting that sort of data and for the real time nature of it. So that’s built into the clinical workflow of the clinician, right. They want to know too, if patients aren’t feeling well or are feeling side effects based on these therapies. So it’s going to be a part of it.
Grant: Who are your competitors? What else is going on in this space?
Lucia: Yeah, it’s been pretty interesting. I mean, I think there are lots of mental health companies out there, which is all really wonderful, but not really anyone doing anything in treatment-resistant depression. So I think we’ve seen just different mental health models working with subclinical populations, either through self-insured employers or direct to patients by doing like an SSRI subscription or something, but again no one is really working in treatment resistant health whatsoever.
I think there are folks that are doing similar things that are more therapeutic-area agnostic. So, you know, the Flatirons and Tempus’s of the world, but there’s nobody doing it for mental health. So we’re hoping to sit at that intersection and provide something of value for both researchers and providers and patients.
Grant: What do you expect will be your biggest challenges?
Lucia: Oh man. Well, building a company is always tough, but I think overall like the whole field of mental health, while it’s got a lot of momentum behind it and moving in the direction that oncology was, there’s still the basic limitation of science, right?
Like we still don’t know what actually causes mental health conditions, whether it’s genetic or environmental or other factors. So there are the unknown risks, scientific risks that we have to deal with. But I think we’re seeing a lot of promise and potential, especially with new modalities, like psychedelic medicine and neuromodulation and whatnot that we are getting to a better understanding.
Grant: So what is the most valuable thing that Osmind does for patients?
Jimmy: We work with clinics and can really improve the patient journey. So this involves coordinating care with how they see their different providers, especially in this space, they often see multiple types of providers at the same time.
So we try to coordinate that as much as possible, helping lower barriers to treatment, which includes helping with insurance as Lucia had mentioned earlier. Helping the providers automate a lot of tracking of outcomes, which then helps providers give better care for the patient, but also empowers the patients and their family members and friends to also track progress along the way. So they can also take more ownership in navigating their own journeys. And I think that’s kind of the immediate impact. Longer term, definitely trying to just move the needle tangibly in terms of research.
Grant: How do you support researchers?
Jimmy: For researchers, we collect a lot of data that could be really useful to developing a better understanding of mental health conditions at a biological level. And this could include information that’s clinical, that’s patient-reported, that’s digital, and obviously biological as well. So that’s kind of the data engine that is useful for researchers. There’s also a number of tech-enabled services that would be really useful, such as enabling clinical trials to go much faster than it would otherwise, being able to have precision recruitment for clinical trials, and then site selection and managing the whole process.
So that we can actually get the right people into these studies. And I think one problem in mental health that has really been a big pain point is recruiting the right types of people into studies. My personal belief is a lot of assets have failed in phase three trials, not because they don’t work, but because they just fail to reach statistical significance due to the people that were put into the studies. That’s a kind of phenotyping and diagnosis problem that just the whole field has suffered from.
So, if we can now collect multi-modal data where we can really take an objective approach to enroll the right types of people that we already know are going to benefit the most, even without any underlying scientific innovation, that in itself could hopefully move the needle and get more medications approved for people.
Grant: Where did the idea for Osmind come from?
Lucia: Yeah, Jimmy and I met in a class at Stanford, a couple of years ago. It was one of the rare classes that are cross-listed between the business school and the med school. And we just became really good friends. And after that started talking about all the ways that healthcare and the healthcare system are messed up and really thought a lot about mental health, just given our own personal backgrounds.
We both grew up in households where mental health is extremely stigmatized and grew up in the Bay area where it’s very prevalent amongst adolescents, especially. And then also just realized that there’s still a whole population of people out there that haven’t been able to get the help that they need. That coupled with the excitement about where the whole field is going and had been following psychedelic medicine as well, made us realize that now was really the time to do something. And this is the opportunity to help treatment-resistant patients with everything new that’s going on.
Grant: So by the time you graduated, did you already basically have the basic business plan formulated?
Lucia: Yeah, the timing was that we started working on it in my final year and then by the time I graduated, we had started Y Combinator. I think we started it right before my graduation date and then Jimmy decided then to take a leave of absence from med school.
Grant: Very cool. And where did the name come from?
Lucia: Ah, yes, the name it’s kind of one of those cool combination names. For one, the person that coined the term psychedelics is named Humphry Osmond, so we really wanted to pay homage to him. And then also just because we’re really hoping to build the underlying infrastructure or operating system for mental health that is the OS and then mind, given that the mind is also the operating system of the body.
Grant: What have been your biggest surprises over the last year?
Jimmy: Yeah, I think a really big surprise for me, personally, I won’t speak for Lucia, is just the interest in the field that has popped up. And I think maybe initially I didn’t expect COVID to have this sort of massive impact on just everything in mental health and just scaling up mental health care to as many people as possible.
And public officials are finally realizing how big of an issue this is. So that’s been a very pleasant surprise. And I think seeing how that also has trickled down to the actual interest in the science. So the life sciences of neuropsychiatry and everything related to psychedelics and neuromodulation and neurochemistry or neuroimaging, like everything, I think that’s been a really pleasant surprise for me. And there’s just so much interest in the space right now.
Lucia: Yeah, definitely. I think maybe on the more challenging side is I have so much more respect for founders. I mean, I think Grant, you and I being at a neuroscience biotech startup together before, like I always respected our founder and our CEO, but now I realize how much she went through to keep the company going and to really serve the entire team.
And I think now I feel lucky that I get to do it with Jimmy and there’s the two of us tackling this, but it’s still really hard. It definitely tries you a lot. And it’s exciting to just, I don’t think I could imagine doing anything else now, but working on a company.
Grant: Cool. So what advice would you have for aspiring founders?
Lucia: Yeah, this is my go-to that Jimmy has heard many times, but definitely just learning to prioritize, which is something that I’m still learning too. It’s never a done deal, but I think there’s just an infinite number of things to do. And with founding a company, you’re already ambitious enough to found a company, so it’s never going to be like you didn’t do enough. That’s never going to be the problem. It’s going to be like, you did too much on the wrong things.
And so I think learning how to ruthlessly prioritize and figure out what’s actually going to move the needle because probably just 20% of what you can do in totality is going to move the needle at the 80%,like the Pareto principle. So I think just figuring out what those things are and ruthlessly prioritizing them are the biggest things I would focus on.
Jimmy: Yeah. I mean, I buy into your advice, that’s something I’m trying to improve on as well. I think something that’s stood out to me is to really selectively listen to advice. I think there’s a lot of advice flying around out there and it all cancels out to zero. And I think there are a lot of people who don’t know what they’re talking about. There are a lot of people who are very smart, but they only know what they’ve experienced in their own successes, which might be different for other people’s stories.
So I think it’s being able to kind of find the signal through the noise and just have an underlying self-belief that even if other people’s vice runs contrary to what you believe, as long as there are logical, rational reasons that you have your own mindset to then just follow that.
Grant: What’s the worst advice you’ve received on this path?
Lucia: My mentality towards investors and raising funding has sort of been just like whatever, it’s just commoditized. It’s a price game. But I think maybe a contrary to what Jimmy just said. We have met a lot of great people on our path that have been really supportive. And I think finding those long-term partners is actually worth something.
So as we’re considering our next round of funding, that’s definitely going to be a pretty big consideration, whereas in the past I’ve been told that it literally does not matter who your investors are. Just take the highest price. And I don’t think that’s necessarily true anymore. At least in my mind.
Jimmy: Some advice that stuck out to me as being pretty bad was for us to just try to raise a lot of money during YC, just so that we could say we had money. And just so we could say we knew investors, even though we didn’t need the money and that it would be extremely distracting as we were starting our company.
Grant: And so at Osmind, you have so many different types of people working for you. I don’t think either of you had ever managed software engineers before, please correct me if I’m mistaken though.
Lucia: No, you’re right.
Grant: How have you gone about that? You know, basically hiring people into roles that you may have never managed before and possibly never worked closely with in the past.
Lucia: Yeah, I think you’ve touched on a really interesting challenge of being founders: we are not great at much. Like, I think Jimmy and I each have a couple of functional areas of strength, Jimmy, more than me, but we gotta be dangerous enough in so many different categories and it’s all about breadth and that’s probably one of the most challenging things I find about being a founder is like I’ve never been a software engineer. Like my dad’s a software engineer. It’s probably the closest that I get to it.
Grant: Well, that’s much closer than most.
Lucia: Yeah, that’s true. There’s so many areas where that applies. So it’s about educating yourself and knowing enough so that you can at least be conversant in those topics and then finding people that you really trust to do the vetting for you. Because I think you’re never going to know enough to be like a hiring master in each of these areas, but knowing how to set your criteria in an objective way, and knowing how to find people who can help you with that assessment are really, really important. And then once you do make these decisions, like completely trusting in the people that you brought on because they are the domain experts and knowing what you don’t know with that.
Grant: What have you learned about each other?
Lucia: Oh, man. So much.
Jimmy: I’ll start just because it’s something I actually think about quite often, which is Lucia is just a machine in terms of getting things done and executing. And it’s something that I really try to learn from as much as I can. When something needs to get done, she’ll figure out a way to just do it even though, as we just alluded to, it might not be something she had previous experience in. And she will still figure out the right way to do it. And it’ll be great. It’s something I’m trying to learn more about.
Lucia: I feel like what’s been really great is that we challenge each other a lot and disagree with each other a lot. And there’s no pride in authorship and there’s no hurt egos or anything when we challenge each other. So that’s really great, but I feel like Jimmy’s really good at just throwing out crazy ideas, kind of seeing what sticks. And then we always walk back from it, but it’s really great because he just thinks really big.
And I think that’s really important because we are working in a field where thinking big is so critical and will get us to that next level. I like how he really pushes me and challenges me in that way. I think it’s super important. I think, as co-founders you learn everything about each other: what your sleeping schedules are, when we can expect a message back at 3:00 AM, things like that.
Grant: What are the major forces that shaped you to become who you are today? So going back to, you know, things from childhood things, from your education, key things you learned from previous jobs.
Lucia: Yeah. I mean, I think some of the industriousness that Jimmy alluded to is definitely from my earlier jobs in finance because those are just like real battlegrounds and training for the real world. Junior analysts are expected to work around the clock and to really be receptive and responsive to client requests. Things like that, that at the time were annoying and hard to deal with, but really shape you and give you a backbone. So I think that was really useful, but more than that, learning how to interact with different types of people, like working with you and the other folks, computational biologists on the team, like I had never met people so smart as you all.
I guess technically our COO had half a PhD, but I had zero PhD. So I had to figure out how to hold my own and build credibility in my own way. So I think the combination of learning what you don’t know again, and like the humility that comes with that, but also being able to have confidence in what you do know, and that it brings value to the table.
Jimmy: For me, part of the reason I really like thinking big is because I never really used to do that. I used to just kind of walk the road I was supposed to walk. So starting in high school, it was getting into a good college. And then when I was pre-med in college, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do to get into medical school.
And then there’s the whole, you do XYZ to do residency and you become a professor. And I think it’s similar to a lot of people who go to grad school, which is it’s very well laid out path. You publish or perish. And at some point, a lot of people just start asking, what’s the actual point of walking down this road? What do they actually want from it?
And so I think I’ve become much more open-minded about asking: what do I actually want to do with the time that I have? And what kind of questions do I want to answer most? What kind of issues do I want to solve the most? And I realized that I want to work on something in mental health. Partially because my high school and college were both very bad in terms of mental health. I saw lots of just really sad situations and it became something that was really important to me.
Grant: What do you think is the biggest mistake that smart, ambitious young people make?
Lucia: Oh man, I’ve got a really jaded answer: devoting themselves to causes that don’t move the needle. Kind of asking yourself the thought question of like, if I were not here today, would the world be any different or would what I’m working on actually make a difference? That is a good way to keep yourself honest. But I am pretty skeptical about a lot of the careers that people in our situations take.
Jimmy: I think I’m right on the same page. I think I would like to see a lot of people take action to work on the biggest problems in society because there’s so many: social justice, climate change, all aspects of healthcare, life sciences, poverty, so many things.
Grant: What’s the biggest issue on which you disagree with most of your peers?
Lucia: I think it’s similar to what we were just talking about. I’m not at all a fan of social media. And I think that overall it has really decreased the quality of living. I mean, I think there’s some baseline aspects of communication and connection that it fulfills.
But beyond that, I think it’s been largely detrimental to society. So I did my first Clubhouse event over the weekend. And it was like, Oh my gosh, I cannot believe someone convinced me to get on this. This is not my jam at all. And I’m sure people are finding a lot of benefit for the connection, especially during COVID. But I think if all those resources and brainpower were put into problems that Jimmy mentioned, our society would be much, much, much better off.
Grant: So there’s been a lot on social media. Speaking of social media, lately about problems people are having in the Bay area, this bit of a move to Miami. We actually had Delian on the podcast a while back and we spoke about this. At the time, he thought he would never move to Miami.
And I said, actually, it’s a pretty nice place. Never say never, never say never. And, and sure enough, now he’s bought a house there. So, what are your thoughts on this? Both the greater ability to work remotely that tech has brought, as well as some of the unique challenges people are having in the Bay area now. I know, Lucia, you’re from there, ight? So I’d love to get your perspective on that.
Lucia: Yeah. Speaking, Grant, of getting to know each other as founders. I feel like me and Jimmy aren’t exactly on the same page here, so I’ll let Jimmy give it a go. And I’ll probably disagree with what he says.
Jimmy: Well, I think as a company Osmind, we are going to be an in-person company. I’ll let Lucia talk about that more. But personally I do believe in the power of the Bay area. I think people have long predicted the decentralization of Silicon Valley, that it’s more than an idea than a particular location. It’s definitely an idea and a mindset for sure, but that’s not mutually exclusive with still having a lot of things in the Bay.
I think in general, we’re just going to see a lot of places throughout the world, not just Miami or Austin or Denver, like everywhere. I think as more people get interested in building cool solutions to big problems, we’re just going to get hubs all over the world of innovation. And I still think the Bay area will always be at the forefront of that, but it’s not made sure we exclusive with other places being successful.
Lucia: Yeah, I totally agree. Yeah. I thought you were going to be more “Raw raw!” about the bay, Jimmy, but I know that’s what you mean. And I’m a big, big fan of the Bay area. Both Jimmy and I grew up here, so I think it’s like the most magical place in the world from so many perspectives. Like from a professional perspective, like Jimmy said, it’s just somewhere where these big ideas aren’t weird, like we’d be laughed out of the room in so many other places and I think it’s really magical.
I think the diversity is magical too. I mean, it’s lacking in other types of diversity. Like sometimes I show economic diversity or diversity of thought, but like in many ways, it’s incredibly diverse and you know, my childhood grocery store was like half Asian, half Hispanic grocery store. Things like that, that I think I really took for granted growing up.
Yeah. I just think it’s a really wonderful place, and that is part of the reason why we’re going to be an in-person company after COVID, but we’re trying to be more flexible too. I think before COVID I would have scoffed at the idea of even working from home a day a week, but now we’re thinking, one or two days a week, folks can work from home and that’ll help them manage the commute throughout the Bay area.
So it’s definitely opened my mind a little bit. And I know,, m Grant, you’ve always been a big proponent of remote work, so I definitely believe that there is a way to do it effectively. We’ll just have to balance that with the in-person benefits too.
Grant: And what do you think would be the most effective things that local politicians in the Bay area could do to make more people feel the way you do?
Lucia: I think my quick thing, this is not meant to be another plug for Osmind, but I do think mental health services are a really big issue in San Francisco. In particular, a lot of the homelessness can be attributed to the lack of resources for that population, especially when it comes to substance use disorders.
A lot of people who are living on the streets have experienced some sort of psychosis in some way that prevents them from being able to hold down a job or a place. And so I think it kind of does tie back to mental health in a way that that situation has gone bad. And I think the homelessness is a big part of the other negative aspects of the city.So I would probably start there.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think in addition to what Lucia just mentioned, it’s a broader perspective around social determinants of health. And I mean, this is a really complicated question because I think there are just so many different perspectives and different groups of people that are all unhappy for different reasons.
And sometimes as Grant, you’ve alluded to, it seems like no one is happy in the Bay area, even though there’s so many awesome things about it because there’s some core issue that people can’t get around. And I think partially it’s having better dialogue around all of these different dynamics that are going on.
Very crudely, let’s say there’s one group of people who are in tech, who are unhappy for XYZ reasons. And there’s a group of people who are very unhappy with tech people for XYZ reasons. And I think sometimes there’s just no way to even get around that disagreement and figure out what the solutions are. And I think that is at least a starting point.
Grant: Changing topic a bit, how do you think COVID might play out this year? And how do you think that could affect Osmind and even your own plans? Are you planning to get vaccinated and go wild, start licking light posts and so on?
Jimmy: Never stopped that.
Lucia: Oh, man. I think it’s really fascinating. I don’t know if he saw the piece from Sequoia, the VC about when COVID first hit. They had this like Black Swan piece that was very foreboding, like the world’s going to end, like all these startups are screwed. And then a few weeks ago they had one that was the complete opposite. Like let’s grab the bull by the horns. This is going to be amazing. Just the tune completely changed. And I think the markets are pretty divorced from some of the realities that we face economically, but it does feel like we’re really on the upswing. And I think it’s kind of going to be like the roaring twenties after WWI, where we had the opportunity to spend a lot of money and be happy with society. And I feel like it’s going to be the same after this past year. People are just itching to get out of their shell and to start reviving the economy that is going to be a bit of a boom.
Jimmy: So that’s a really interesting analogy to the roaring twenties.
Lucia: Yeah. Well, hopefully it isn’t followed by a great depression.
Jimmy: We’ll see with the way the markets are growing.
Grant: Any thoughts on when that might start?
Lucia: I feel like it’s starting, it’s happening.
Grant: It’s starting now.
Lucia: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The markets are crazy.
Grant: Great. Do you have any words of wisdom for our listeners?
Lucia: You’ve covered a lot of ground. I think I’m really grateful for the opportunity. Grant, I feel like we serendipitously worked together at a previous company, but that was kind of where I started to realize that being an operator and devoting ourselves to something that’s so important is neuroscience and now neuro-psych. It’s just been a total game changer. So definitely feel like along the lines of the questions you brought up that focusing our energy and intention on the big problems are what we would definitely recommend.
Jimmy: Yeah. I don’t know if this is very applicable to the audience of this podcast, but I think it’s just my scientist. I think this is the age of a life sciences revolution. And I firmly believe that this is what’s going to solve a lot of the big issues that we have for the next decades and so on. And I think just a plug back to CNS, I think this is a major frontier in biomedicine and it’s very, very exciting together with things like genomic medicine or immunology. And I think just not being intimidated by previous failures or difficulties within the space and just hopefully people will come into neuroscience and just help on all aspects of it, because it really is so important.
Grant: It’s definitely the century of biology. Well, great. Lucia, Jimmy, thank you so much for joining us.
Jimmy: Thanks a lot.
Lucia: Thanks Grant.